Pictured from left: Donnell Drinks and Shannon Robinson
Two former "juvenile" lifers – Shannon Robinson and Donnell Drinks -- now are employed full-time as reentry service specialists for a mentoring program called "FRIENDS." The program helps individuals return home after incarceration.
Donnell and Shannon both have extraordinary stories, having both recently been released from prison due to the resentencing changes for "juvenile" lifers. However, instead of just moving along a road of reentry alone, they forge ahead positively while helping and showing others how to navigate a true pathway to success via the mentoring segment of "FRIENDS."
Their journey began in prison with the startup of "Real Street Talk," which is an inmate-initiation program at SCI Phoenix through the NAACP chapter. With that, they were able to gain credibility and be a resounding voice to be heard and respected among the inmates, staff and local politicians, which in-turn helps change the mindset towards reentry, ex-offenders and prison reform.
Donnell and Shannon didn't stop there. They became aware that when individuals were released from prison they still needed assistance and a helping hand within the community to continue their successful reentry progression.
Due to their work inside prison with Real Street Talk and the onset of their own individual releases from prison, they were able to connect with "FRIENDS" to continue the work via mentoring. They also have plans to assist with other rehabilitative methods in the near future.
When asked why they do this line of work, both men, without hesitation, echoed the same reasoning -- to show true remorse for their victims, give back to the community and walk the walk not just talk the talk. Simply just saying sorry can never be enough.